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Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces - Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als

The Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als focuses on inter­dis­cip­lin­ary research in the field of bio­lo­gical and bio­mi­metic mater­i­als. The emphasis is on under­stand­ing how the mech­an­ical or other phys­ical prop­er­ties are gov­erned by struc­ture and com­pos­i­tion and how they adopt to envir­on­men­tal con­di­tions.

MSc thesis: Game The­ory of Bone Meta­stasis

Applic­a­tion of spa­tial Evol­u­tion­ary Game The­ory to study the mutual rela­tion­ship between dif­fer­ent kinds of bone cells (osteo­blasts, osteo­clasts, osteo­cytes) in their inter­ac­tion cells.

Work­ing field:

Back­ground: Applied Math­em­at­ics, Phys­ics or Engin­eer­ing


You should have a back­ground in applied math­em­at­ics, phys­ics or engin­eer­ing with good pro­gram­ming skills, atti­tude towards under­stand­ing the­or­et­ical and math­em­at­ical mod­el­ing and strong interest in the bio­logy of can­cer. The pro­ject will be car­ried out at the Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces in col­lab­or­a­tion between the groups of Dr Amaia Cipitria and Dr Angelo Val­leri­ani.

What we of­fer:

This pro­ject is pre­dom­in­antly the­or­et­ical, yet inter­ac­tion with ongo­ing exper­i­mental work of breast can­cer bone meta­stasis will be avail­able all time. In this pro­ject, the mutual inter­ac­tion between dif­fer­ent types of bone cells is modeled as the spa­tial inter­ac­tion between bone volumes that are pre­dom­in­antly occu­pied by those cells. Each type of cell is rep­res­en­ted as a strategy of an evol­u­tion­ary game. The inter­ac­tion mat­rix is the pay-off mat­rix of the evol­u­tion­ary game between the vari­ous strategies. In the first part of the pro­ject, you will repro­duce avail­able res­ults of physiolo­gical bone remod­el­ling by sim­u­lat­ing the spa­tial game in the absence of can­cer cells and determ­in­ing a qual­it­at­ive map of vari­ous coex­ist­ence regions as func­tion of few rel­ev­ant para­met­ers. In the second part of the pro­ject, you will intro­duce a new strategy rep­res­en­ted by the can­cer cells. This will increase the com­plex­ity of the model and will provide use­ful insights into the way can­cer cells can hijack physiolo­gical pro­cesses of bone form­a­tion and resorp­tion and alter this bal­ance to induce patho­lo­gical bone destruc­tion. You will invest­ig­ate which para­met­ers of their inter­ac­tion with the other cells (as included in a new pay-off mat­rix) can pro­mote or hinder meta­stasis devel­op­ment. Whenever pos­sible, ana­lyt­ical math­em­at­ical res­ults will com­ple­ment the com­pu­ta­tional work.

How to ap­ply:

Please send your applic­a­tion includ­ing a motiv­a­tion let­ter, your CV and a tran­script of your uni­versity record via email to Please indic­ate “Mas­ter thesis – Game the­ory of bone meta­stasis” in the sub­ject line.